A suicide bomber detonated a car rigged with explosives in the eastern Afghan city of Khost Friday morning, killing at least eight people and injuring scores of others, police said.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing, which targeted a police station. Two policemen, a patrolman and an officer, were among the dead, said Abdul-Hakim Isaqzai, the police chief of Khost province, which borders Pakistan.
"It was very powerful, It shook Khost city," he said about the blast.
The explosion, in a crowded area of the city, damaged cars, houses and shops and sent a pillar of thick black smoke into the air.
"The blast was very large. It went off in the heart of the city near a police checkpoint," 35-year-old Noorullah of Khost told The Associated Press. "There is broken glass in the residential areas around the bombing, Even people in their houses were injured by broken glass." Noorullah, who uses one name, said city residents were expressing fear and disappointment about the continuing violence.
"Continually we are facing this disaster," he said, adding that he has little faith in the ability of the Afghan government's peace council to reconcile with insurgents. "The government officials in Khost province _ they are so scared. They cannot leave their offices, their compounds, to go out to talk to the people." Amir Pacha, director of hospitals in the province, said at least 30 other people, mostly civilians, were wounded in the blast.
In December 2009, a suicide bomber, who was a double agent, killed seven CIA employees at a U.S. intelligence base in Khost.
Farther north along the Afghan-Pakistan border, pro-government security forces on Thursday captured a leader of Hizb-i-Islami, a militant group made up of loyalists of regional warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the coalition said. A suspected insurgent was captured and a local resident who threatened security forces was killed in the operation in Khogyani district of Nangarhar province, NATO added.
The insurgent leader, who was captured, led a group of insurgents responsible for bomb attacks against coalition and Afghan forces and provided food and shelter to five fighters traveling from Pakistan, NATO said. Weapons, a roadside bomb and narcotics were confiscated at the site.
In southern Afghanistan, a coalition service member died Friday in a roadside bombing, NATO said. The coalition did not disclose any other details about the death, which brings to 17 the number of coalition troops who have died in Afghanistan so far this month.